Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why I Love Baltimore and Regret Leaving... Of Love & Regret Pub and Provisions

If you haven't heard yet Brian Strumke, the Gypsy Brewer of Stillwater Artisanal Ales, is moving forward with a permanent Stillwater fixture in his hometown of Baltimore, MD. Nope, it isn't a brewery. Of Love & Regret will be a dining and drinking destination space of a breed Baltimore has yet to experience. The two-tiered tyrant will be located in the Brewer's Hill neighborhood of Baltimore city.

Though Strumke is providing quite a bit of the creative energy for the project, and is working on creating specialty products for sale on premise, the location will be run primarily by Chef Ted Stelzenmuller of Jack's Bistro in Canton. 

Strumke cutting into a Berkshire Pork Chop at Jack's Bistro.
After the First Baltimore Beer Festival at Canton Waterfront Park in 2010. 

I don't mean to blow any more steam up Strumke's ass. I know the mass beer media has done enough of that, but if you talk to the guy you know that he is a real deal. He loves what he is doing and he wants to promote really great things. After my short interview with Strumke, the first word that came out of my mouth to describe the place was "crucial." I mean that in a "this place is going to be supremely awesome and fantastic" kind of way, as well as a "this is going to be a crucial step towards proving Baltimore is one of the most exciting cities on the East Coast" kind of way. I'm seriously excited for this joint. 

Strumke and Me at the 2012 Charleston Brewvival.
I'm trying his Holland Oats Brew for the first time. Yum.
Photo by Chris Rausch of BEERsimple.

If you're already familiar with Strumke's line-up then you know that the moniker of the pub is borrowed from one of his earliest releases also called "Of Love & Regret." Unfortunately the beer will not be making an appearance at the pub's opening, however Strumke assures me that another batch is on it's way from Belgium this month. Strumke says of the name "both love and regret are a part of life.. and I have my own experiences with both, some of these have inspired me, others drive me." Maybe you can see a theme developing here.

A Belgian Saison Ale brewed with Lavender, Chamomile, Heather, and Dandelion.
Artwork by Lee Verzosa.

The first floor will be an upscale restaurant with an eclectic menu of international offerings. I can't go into the details yet but the menu reads like the most amazing cruise ship buffet smorgasbord you can imagine. The menu seems deeply personal and evocative of memories of sumptuous dishes tasted in exotic cities. It almost seemed as if Chef Ted had tapped into my travel history and chosen a dish from each part of my biography.

In addition to a few wines on tap, Of Love & Regret will offer a glowing selection of twelve of the Stillwater beers, plus eight guest brews, including other local Baltimore brewing icons. And for all you spirit lovers there will be a selection of cocktails, some designed by unnamed James Beard nominees in other famous food-centric cities. 

If you are a Baltimore local you probably have at least one Stillwater brew in your beer fridge.
You have a beer fridge, right?

And if all that isnt' enough to get your water boiling then you'll just have to pop upstairs to the bottle shop. The second story retail area will feature tons of local artisans. Chef Ted is just the beginning. Local cheeses, coffee and meats will feature Strumke's finger-work, and seal of approval. An unbelievable amount of collaborative effort is going into this project. 

I can't see this place being anything but successful. And I know that my first toast at Of Love & Regret, will go out to heartache and everything it produces. 

Cheers Bitches!

:Of Love & Regret's lower floor is slated to open sometime before June of 2012, with the bottle shop opening by Fall of 2012. It will be located at 1028 S. Conkling Street. Baltimore, MD 21224.:

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